Deeply Rooted celebrates the conclusion of its 15th anniversary season December 9 during a year when it was also featured on the cover of Culture Connects All: Rethinking Audiences in Times of Demographic Change. The Partners for Livable Communities-MetLife Foundation study describes benchmark practices of particularly relevant arts organizations.
“Unfortunately, too many organizations believe that ‘excellence’ and ‘equity’ are fundamentally at odds. They are not,” Culture Connects All concludes. “(C)ommunity building activities do not need to get in the way of aesthetic values; indeed, understanding the community with a willingness to delve into difficult issues helps to feed the quality and impact of the arts.”
In its section on Deeply Rooted, the study commends the leadership of Artistic Directors Kevin Iega Jeff and Gary Abbott: “Jeff and Abbott’s choreography stresses both technical virtuosity and the deep exploration of character and community.” The report singles out Deeply Rooted’s Mature H.O.T. (HealthConscious ~ Optimistic ~ Triumphant) Women training and performance ensemble as an example of responding to needs expressed by an increasingly significant audience segment.
Jeff explains Deeply Rooted strives to nurture all who come in contact with its programs and performances, whether they are professionals, amateur practitioners or audience members. “We seek to deal with the whole, both the individual and collective. We’re about self-realization, self-actualization, bringing out the genius in us all. Art is the missing link to dealing with challenges we face. When you’re inside that context, it can be healing on every level.”
Jeff calls the representation in Culture Connects All “fabulous, right where we want to be.” Indeed, Deeply Rooted refers to its upcoming “Chicago Women of Song” anniversary season finale at the Harris Theater at Millennium Park as a tribute to the diverse musical heritage and local community that inspire the company’s acclaimed fusion of dance, movement and voice.